Tips for Protecting Your Windows XP Computer
For owners of older computers, this was no late April Fool's joke: On April 8, 2014, Microsoft quit supporting its more than 12-year old Windows XP system.
This means there will be no more updates from Microsoft to patch security holes and fix other known issues. And that leaves its users at more of a risk for viruses, malware, hackers and instability. Though I don’t think users are instantly destined to be hacked, I do recommend following some security practices and suggest abandoning XP sooner rather than later.
Don’t let older applications keep you from upgrading to a newer Windows version or PC. You may be able to run older applications directly in a newer Windows using the Compatibility Mode. If that doesn’t work and Windows XP is still truly needed, you can use the Windows XP Mode on Windows 7. Or use another virtual solution, such as VirtualBox, to run XP inside a newer version of Windows.
Upgrading PCs that originally came with Windows XP to a newer Windows version could be a possibility. But you can run into compatibility issues, as the hardware components may not support newer versions. If you want to try, keep in mind you’ll have a better chance with Windows 7 than you would with the newest version, Windows 8.1.
If you’re still using Windows XP, there are six things you should do to help increase your security:
Ensure you have Service Pack 3 and all other updates installed, which are still downloadable via Windows Update.
No more Internet Explorer updates
Don’t use the Internet Explorer web browser; like Windows XP, it is no longer being updated. Consider Google Chrome, which will be supported at least until April 2015, or Mozilla Firefox, which hasn’t announced any plans to end support yet. Better yet, if you don’t require the Internet on the PC, keep it offline.
Time to uninstall
If the Internet is required on your Windows XP computer, consider disabling or uninstalling Java, Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash Player. These programs won’t be updated anymore and are popular intrusion points for hackers and malware. But if you’d like to keep these enabled for websites that require them, consider using a sandbox program, such as Sandboxie, to virtually isolate the browser and any viruses and malware you might pick up.
If you have Microsoft Office installed, it no longer will receive updates in Windows XP either. Consider removing it and using a free open-source office suite such as LibreOffice.
Have a good antivirus program running to help catch any hackers or malware you might run into. Most antivirus vendors will continue to support Windows XP for some time, which could help protect your computer against new security holes.
If you’re comfortable using your older PC with Windows XP for a while longer, you may want to add more memory (RAM), along with performing a good cleaning to better help increase speed, performance and security.
This article originally appeared on the Dayton Daily News website.